Xbox Series S: How Backwards Compatibility Works On Microsoft's Cheaper System
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Xbox Series S: How Backwards Compatibility Works On Microsoft's Cheaper System

Lloyd Coombes
28 September 2020

How does the Series S handle classic titles?

Microsoft has been focused on backwards compatibility for a sizeable chunk of the current console generation, and Xbox Series X looks to continue that trend.

The Series S, on the other hand, is a bit more of a mystery, with the console only capable of outputting a 1440p resolution.

Here's everything we know about how backwards compatibility will work on the Series S, courtesy of a new deep-dive from Digital Foundry.

Xbox Series S Backwards Compatibility Explained

The Series S is capable of playing original Xbox games, Xbox 360 games, and Xbox One games, but handles each somewhat differently.

The original Xbox emulation will run games at an enhanced resolution, with Digital Foundry reporting the following:

"There's a 3x boost to resolution on both axes, meaning that titles targeting 480p on the original machine will hit a maximum of 1440p on Series S, presumably with a range of performance benefits."

With regards to Xbox 360, games will also get a resolution bump up to the console's maximum output of 1440p.

"These [Xbox 360] games will also be enhanced for Series S, this time running with a 2x2 resolution multiplier, bringing titles that ran at native 720p up to 1440p"

"While this doesn't match the max 4K we saw on Xbox One X, there is the potential for improved performance elsewhere thanks to the much faster Zen 2 CPU architecture. In scenarios where Xbox One X was limited by its Jaguar CPU cores, Series S has much more headroom."

Xbox One titles, however, are a little more complicated when played on the Series S vs the Series X. The Series X's 4K output means that it can offer the kind of Xbox One X enhancements that owners of that console have come to enjoy, with the likes of higher quality textures, higher resolution, and more.

That's not to say the Series S doesn't improve these games significantly, however.

"The new [Series S] console benefits from increased resolutions in games that use dynamic resolution scaling, as well as improvements to texture filtering quality."

"Obviously, running games from solid-state storage reduces loading times significantly, while the Auto HDR feature we've seen running on Series X also features on Series S - all games should present nicely on HDR screens, whether they natively support high dynamic range or not."

For more on the differences between Series S and Series X, be sure to check out our price comparison here, as well as our full specs comparison here.

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